Saturday, December 5, 2020

Academic Quick Hit: Wayfinding - Woods, Rudd, Robinson, and Davids, 2020

Where I attempt to give a quick summary and opinion on an academic paper that connects to teaching, learning, and/or sport.

Why I think this paper matters:
- Using the metaphor of wayfinding for skill adaptation can be a very helpful tool for translating from formal academic language to something easier for practitioners (coaches, teachers, learners) to absorb, understand, and apply.

Woods, C. T., Rudd, J., Robertson, S., & Davids, K. (2020). Wayfinding: How Ecological Perspectives of Navigating Dynamic Environments Can Enrich Our Understanding of the Learner and the Learning Process in Sport. Sports Medicine - Open, 6(1), 51.

Type of Paper: Review/Opinion
The authors give readers a new way to think about the process of skill adaptation. They build out the wayfinding metaphor and how it can be used to think about learning movement and, more importantly for coaches, how it can be used to approach teaching movement.

- A definition of wayfinding: "...wayfinding is an activity that confronts us with the marvellous fact of being in the world, requiring us to look up and take notice, to cognitively and emotionally interact with our surroundings" – M.R. O’Connor (p. 1)
- Wayfinding is contrasted with transport, "where an individual is more interested in reaching a pre-planned destination by transiting 'across' a landscape, as opposed to moving 'through' a landscape" (p. 3). It is more important to experience the landscape.
- The idea of knowledge of is contrasted with knowledge about the landscape in which the wayfinder moves. (To be clear, the "landscape", in this case, is metaphorical, like a "solution space" or a realm of possibilities. This is not talking about how the learner actually moves through physical space.)
- The role of the teacher as landscape designer, in which they create opportunities for learners to "learn to learn how to move" rather than problem-solvers for the learners.
- The role of the teacher as asker of questions rather than explainer of answers to the learners.
- "...wayfinding isn’t knowing before we go, but, knowing as we go" (p. 10)

What I'm left wondering:
- How do I know if the landscape I design is working? If learning is nonlinear and questions should have physical answers instead of verbal ones (p. 8), how do I assess that the learners are seeing what they need to see? What if they are focusing on useful sources of information in the environment but moving in ways that don't get them closer to their goals? How do I get at that discrepancy?
- How does this metaphor fit in with tasks that are less physical (more cognitive) in nature, like remembering an opponent's tendencies?

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